Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

The pedagogical distributed group care-toolkit

The Ped-Care project offers five main applications together with other complementary tools in order to solve detected lacks in the current Learning Management Systems (LMS), authoring or commercial ones. Tools design is based on the transfer of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) techniques to education. Ped-Care supplies these tools into an open and modular architecture that allows adaptation to any existing LMS.

The five main components are the following:

- Integrated Management of Communication Channels
-- Intelligent Messages Manager (IeMM):
The main objective is to help teachers in the management of the established communication channels with learners improving their relationships. IeMM captures the questions sent to the teacher (by eMail, SMS, Web or WAP), analyses it’s content through semantic analysis techniques and selects the best answer for it considering the available information in the course knowledge base. The selected answer can be automatically sent to the learner (by eMail, Web, WAP, SMS or Fax) without human intervention or can be forwarded to the teacher for confirmation. In this case, the question and the suggested answer will be completed with the learner profile information (see PPEM application).

Another choice is to forward the question to other departments when the teacher is not able to answer it. It also permits the automatic updating of the FAQ page incorporating the answer that the teacher sends to the learner. Another important feature refers to its capacity of personalising the answer taking into account the segment that the learner belongs to (see Intelligent Pedagogical Segmentation Manager - IPSM). In this way, different answers can be associated to the same question according to the segment in which the student is classified. Finally, the answers can be completed with additional information as Internet Links or course contents provided by the Pedagogical Content Manager (PCM) component (see below).

-- Intelligent Pedagogical Frequent Asked Question List (FAQ):
It complements the IeMM application offering a list with the most frequent asked question and the associated answers. These answers will be customised regarding the learner profile and segment. The teacher can dynamically update this list through the IeMM when they receive questions that the system is not able to automatically answer them. In this way, the teacher continuously improve the FAQ considering the questions they receive from learners.

-- Market Campaigns Manager:
It allows teachers to send personalised information to the learners taking into account their particular profiles and specific segment. Of course, any communication channel can be used for this sending. The results of the campaings can be analysed detecting in this way their success.

- Contents Management Tools
Personalised Content Manager (PCM):
It is used to search for information about the course using metadata search technologies. A simple and friendly interface is used. Results are personalised for each learner in order to provide smart filtering, ordering and focus on the various query results. Together with the previous application, teachers can also use this tool for selecting and sending learning contents that complement the course official learning material

- Monitoring tools and Help-Desk:
-- Pedagogical Pursuit and Evaluation Manager (PPEM):
The distributed Ped-Care architecture facilitates the integration of the previous applications in one system in order to capture all the interactions of the different agents within the system. In this way each user profile will be completed with this activity information that will be used to calculate the different pedagogical indicators that define the user behaviour in the learning process.

-- Pedagogical Segmentation Manager (IPSM):
Once the learner activity information has been captured together with the pedagogical criteria specified by each teacher, these tools will dynamically classify each learner in the defined segments. This classification will be done based on a massive analysis of the captured information.

-- Information Analysis Tools:
All the developed tools will provide users with reports and statistics about the system activity and the system responses. Also, the pedagogical indicators will allow testing the actual situation of the learning process. Finally, the segmentation will offer information about the evolution of each learner on it (considering the history of the segments in which he had classified) and the general success (considering the number of learners in each segment).

- M-learning
Finally, the three-Tier technical architecture defined for each tool will allow users accessing them by any media (browsers, e-mail, WAP, SMS, etc.) offering the results through any communication channel thanks to a clear separation of the presentation logical layer in the software components involved.

PedCare toolkit is designed and developed to complete Learners Relationship Manager (LRM) methodology solving main lacks detected in actual eLearning platforms (commercial or authoring). Therefore, organisations using the LRM methodology (large organisations, private or public universities, etc), eLearning platform providers (for incorporating added value services to their LMS) or education providers (for improving their offer or for improving their monitoring or evaluating processes) are target groups for the commercial exploitation of the Ped-Care toolkit. On other hand, PedCare toolkit could also be part of total solution offers for the deployment of eLearning solutions (specially for large organisations). Finally, it is also suitable for being distributed through ASP providers together with other eLearning services.

Considering existing eLearning platforms an integration process is required for the PedCare toolkit. This requires:
- The development of an OAI Data Provider able to export the information stored in the end-user eLearning platform to the PedCare knowledge database. This procedure is developed using the OAI protocol and requires low but additional investments. The existence of this Data Provider will allow Ped-Care to import information stored in the native LMS (teacher and learning profiles, course information, logs, evaluation notes, etc.)

- The purchase of one or more application servers in which Ped-Care tools and knowledge base will be installed. Each Ped-Care module can be installed in an isolated way being connected with the other components through Web Services (SOAP protocol). In this way, any distributed architecture is acceptable. Of course, it is also acceptable to install all Ped-Care toolkit in only one server. Additional software required for the installation of Ped-Care tools is available under open source licences (Linux, Apache and Tomcat application server, James mail server, Java SDK, etc.) so no additional investments on software licences are required.

- The configuration of Ped-Care tools to fit end-users requirements. This processes includes: the configuration of the language, the configuration of the thresold for the different artificial intelligence algorithms applied in IeMM, PCM and IPSM components, the feed of the knowledge base including an initial FAQ list and additional learning contents that complete the official contents of each course, the connection of Ped-Care agents with the organisation mail servers and the connection (optional) of PCM to external repositories of learning contents (OAI providers or LOM providers as Ariadne).

- The training of the intelligent modules (IeMM and IPSM). This phase is not mandatory but a preparation stage will ensure better results in the courses from the beginning.

Installation procedure can be accomplished by potential users without technical support, it is recommended for fine tunning tools functionality. Finally, in order to facilitate marketing activities material (video, brochure, flyers, Web sites) and demonstrator of main Ped-Care functionalities are available.

Related information

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Altran SDB
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